Parish Council Meeting

This is a meeting of the Pill & Easton-in-Gordano Parish Council. The public are welcome to the first part of the meeting to put questions and/or comments to the council.

Wildlife activities during COVID19

It’s week two (week one is here) of our tips and activities during lockdown and this time it’s all about helping and attracting wildlife.

With the arrival of spring all the birds, mammals, amphibians and insects are busily foraging for food, building nests and preparing for new arrivals. Here are some easy projects you can do in your garden, backyard or balcony to make it a magnet for wildlife and provide year round interest for you and your family.

  1. Make a bug hotel. There’s a really simple one you can make with kids for your garden or balcony from recycled materials. You can also drill 2-8mm wide holes in fence posts and log piles too. You can even create a bug mansion.
  2. Make a wildlife corridor. If you have a fence, remove a small section at the bottom to allow hedgehogs and frogs into your garden.
  1. Plant a mini meadow. If you don’t have any ground space you can create a mini meadow in a window box. Sow a wildflower seed mix in a large container and position it in a sunny spot. Seeds are still available in supermarkets even during lockdown.
  1. Create a mini pond. This is a great way to encourage wildlife to hang out in your space. It can be as simple as an old washing up bowl, sunk into the soil with a big rock or a brick in the middle just under the water to allow easy access for frogs and newts. Position it in part shade. You can add an oxygenating plant to keep the water fresh. Affordable plants are available at Amazon at the time of writing and the RSPB has a step by step guide.
  1. Build a log pile – it’s an ideal habitat for small mammals, amphibians and insect critters.
  1. Put up bird feeders. Birds will love the food and you will love watching them feed. You can make recycled bottle and carton feeders and the RSPB has lots of year round bird feeding advice.
  1. Provide water for wildlife. You can just put out a shallow dish. Sloped sides are important to allow easy access to the water. Keep it regularly topped up. A hanging bird bath is a good option if you’re short of space. Hang it from a tree or wall.
  1. Make space for a nest box. Most gardens, even tiny ones, have space for a bird box or two, and this is a great way to encourage nesting birds to make a home in your garden. You can easily make one from a recycled flower pot.
  1. Relax and enjoy. And when you finally head indoors how about trying some nature and countryside podcasts and apps – here are a few for starters:

David Attenborough’s Life Stories – BBC Radio 4A series of talks by the master of nature documentaries on the natural histories of animals and plants from around the world.

30 Animals That Made Us Smarter – BBC World ServiceA series on all the different and unusual things humans have learned from observing animals.

Draycott diaries – a locally produced series of podcast that provide a charming insight into rural life round Draycott near Cheddar.

Download the iNaturalist app to your phone, it’s a fun way for kids and adults to learn about what they find and to contribute to science at the same time 

An update from Network Rail

An update from Network Rail regarding what will be our nearest station, Portway! (text of email below, plus a PDF of further information.)

We are getting in touch to provide a general overview of railway work in the Bristol area and, in particular, to highlight work taking place over the next couple of weekends. Please see the attached​newsletter for full details. 

What’s happening?

Working within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Safety of our workers and the public, as well as preventing the spread of the virus, is paramount. We have been reassessing all planned work with Government guidelines in mind. All necessary steps are being taken to mitigate against the risk on site and enable our workers to continue with essential maintenance in line with current advice.

Travel advice

During the coronavirus outbreak, please only travel if it is essential.

If you do need to travel please bear in mind the following:

Weekends of 25 & 26 April and 2 & 3 May:
Coaches replace trains:

  • between Bristol Temple Meads and Newport/Cardiff Central (not calling at Bristol Parkway)
  • between Bristol Parkway and Newport​

Low-floor buses will also run:

  • between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway
  • between Bristol Temple Meads and Clifton Down/Avonmouth/Severn Beach​

A taxi will run between Bristol Parkway and Pilning (and back) on the Saturdays at 08.05 and 14.05.

Please check before you travel at nationalrail.co.uk or GWR.com

On the weekends of Saturday 25 & 26 April and Saturday 2 & 3 May, we will be replacing sections of track on the large junction (‘Bristol East Junction’) just outside Bristol Temple Meads. This is the first bit of track work ahead of the full renewal of the junction, planned for summer 2021.

During the same two weekends, we will also be completing further drainage work alongside the railway line that runs between Bristol Temple Meads and Filton Abbey Wood station, and carrying out follow up work in the Pilning area, between Bristol and south Wales.

Run a local business? Make sure you’re getting the COVID-19 support that you’re due!

There is a series of government support schemes for businesses, to help them weather the COVID-19 crisis. This article by Business in North Somerset summarises all the the various schemes that are available to access. These include tax support, grants and loans, rates holidays/relief, sick pay compensation, retail grants, a job retention scheme and a £10K grant for businesses in receipt of small business relief.

You can find out more here.

Fairtrade Update

In case anyone was wondering about the importance of Fairtrade to communities in the developing world, please take a look at this post from Fairtrade International:

The news we’re hearing from the fields is devastating. Tens of thousands of workers in the tea and flower sectors have lost their livelihoods, most without any financial safety net. Restrictions on movement mean that harvested goods, like rice, cotton, and coffee, are sitting in fields or in warehouses, waiting for restrictions to be lifted so that they can be sold and exported – which means that incomes and wages are also waiting.

But we’re also hearing stories of hope and solidarity. Fairtrade producer organizations that are feeding the vulnerable members of their communities. Flower workers who learned sewing skills through use of the Fairtrade Premium being called in to work to make masks for their communities. Cooperatives supporting their communities by setting up COVID-19 testing centers. The resilience, innovation, and generous nature of these farmers and workers truly humbles me.

(For context,  Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Fairtrade group last year celebrated 25 years since the launch of the Fairtrade Mark and the 10th anniversary of our recognition as a Fairtrade Community.)

Activities & Info During COVID-19

Welcome to the Parish Council Climate Emergency Group lockdown tips and activities for you and your family and friends. We hope some of the ideas, web links and information below will help you keep busy and entertained at home, in the garden or if you are managing a daily walk.

We’re starting with ideas for celebrating Easter and Spring then each week we will add more tips.

Easter family activities

The Outdoors Project ‘has come up with lots of ideas including natural dye eggs, a nature scavenger hunt, some fun party games and making a bird feed kebab. There’s much more on the website

Have fun out walking you’ll find wherever you go there are opportunities to collect materials for art projects, spot wildlife and take pictures. Check out the Woodland Trust and the RSPB for more ideas and for help identifying garden birds.

Upcycling craft ideas for kids – from a glass jar lantern to bowling tin cans and papier mache piñata here are 15 ways for kids to be crafty with recycled materials

Try some awesome Egg science from crash test eggs to zip lining and building an eggshell bridge.

Get growing

All you need are some seeds, a bit of soil, water, warmth, light and air. Everything else can be done with everyday household items. Who needs a garden fork, when a dinner fork will do for smaller plants? Don’t have a watering can? Try passing water through a sieve or colander over your plants to create a gentler shower. Trowels are only large spoons.

Sourcing seeds and plants is much easier than you might think. Most local supermarkets will still be stocking a huge variety of seeds. You can also find seeds in the produce you buy to eat at home – such as sunflower seeds and avocado stones. And check out our local seed sharing project right here in the village. If you have some surplus seeds you can pop them onto this Seed swapping spreadsheet and check if there are some listed that you would like. Sharing and swapping should be arranged while still social distancing.

Start off your seeds in recycled materials and containers including toilet paper rolls and eggshells. When it comes to planting your seeds in general the bigger the seeds the deeper they are planted. Sow little and often. Only sow what you have room to grow and sowing every 3 weeks will give you a longer season to harvest. Keep seed trays and pots watered and warm – a window sill works well, but protect delicate seedlings from harsh direct mid-day sun. Your seedlings will grow into stronger healthier plants if given the space they need. Using a small tool like a teaspoon handle gently lift the seedling out with its roots, taking care not the damage the stem and pot it on to a bigger pot. Some seeds can be planted directly outside, see packet for instructions. Check if any of your seeds need watering every day, soil must remain damp, not wet and never dry out for seeds to grow.

Help wildlife

Open a hedgehog café in your garden. Feed the hungry hogs to help them build the energy they need when raising hoglets, and their fat reserves for their winter hibernation. Get instructions from the RSPB

Make your own bird feeder

A plastic soda bottle and a couple of wooden spoons make a great birdfeeder. You just have to make holes in the bottle for the spoons and be sure that you angle the spoons downward so that the birdfeed will drizzle onto them.Or you can paint a cardboard juice carton and cut a hold for the feed. Put a wooden spoon or dowel through for the birds to land when they want to eat.

Thirsty trees! (An Update)

Hope everyone’s keeping safe and well and hopefully enjoying your gardens and our outside spaces 🙂 This is just a reminder to all who collected a tree from the community market in January to please remember to water your newly planted tree as we’ve hardly had a drop of rain for a month! A good bucket of water per tree once or twice a week would really help them to establish. Hopefully the first leaf buds and blossoms will now be opening and we’d really love to see your photos and hear your stories about your trees. You can send them to 100treestories@gmail.com 

The Hazels planted by Jenny’s meadow off Avon road will also appreciate some TCL if anyone is looking for activities for some daily exercise outside, (clearly just with members of your own household and not meeting up with anyone else) the nettles can be pulled back around each Hazel, (if you have a fork to remove some of the yellow nettle roots even better) you can leave the cut tops to die back around the Hazels. And if you live close enough to carry down a watering can or large bottle of water they’d love it – (again lots of water for one tree is better than a little on several trees). Clearly it’s a big ask to water and weed all, but if we can manage to do a few that would be wonderful. If you water a Hazel please do tie a bit of ribbon to the top of the cane to show it’s been watered, to help the next person know which tree to give water to.

Thanks to anyone who is able to help on behalf of the Parish council’s Climate Action volunteers. climateactionpill@gmail.com

Neighbourhood Plan open for comment

After much hard work, the Neighbourhood Plan for Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill & Easton-In-Gordano is open for comment and can be found on the Plan web-site pillanddistrictplan.org (where there is also a two-page summary) and in addition there is a print version (posted here as a PDF). Local consultation was due to take place for six weeks from Monday 6th April. That will still be a starting point – comments can be made by e-mail to nhoodplan@btinternet.com – but the consultation period has been extended to some future uncertain date when public discussion and comment may be possible.

The Parish Council wishes to extend its huge thanks to Muray for his hard work, as well as all those who’ve assisted or taken part so far.